Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Preschool Blues

The preschool was taking a field trip, it would entail walking through downtown Sydney.
  • Um, is that safe?
  • How many adults will be accompanying the preschoolers as they scurry through crosswalks, trying to avoid getting stung by the tons of business people smoking on street conveniently holding their cigarette at the perfect height to blind a 4 year old?
  • Will everyone be able to hold a teacher's hand?
  • Is this field trip perhaps a little overly ambitious? Ok, I'll stop.
  • How about-- do you need parent volunteers to help?
Yes, I actually asked these questions-- except the one about the crosswalks and cigarettes. But the point is regarding the final question-- do they want parent volunteers to join them? Which, much to my shock and dismay, the answer was, "No thanks. The children are in day care because the parents are very busy. We supply all the necessary escorts for the trip."

But hello... I am available, and I want to be an active participant.

Our preschool in Florida was really different from this.

Each month, every child in class had the opportunity to be "snack helper" for the day. This entailed one of the child's parents supplying snack for the class and staying for about an hour that morning. The kids loved seeing their parents at school-- just seeing us there, showing us off to their little munchkin friends, and getting to be clingy for an hour. Parents volunteered for the book fair, the carnival, snow day, yeah it goes on and on... well maybe it was overkill (I liked it, but you if you were busy/working/just plain tired you didn't have to do much, or anything).

Needless to say, there is no parent group at this preschool, according to the school- no one has time for it.

By the way, I actually really like the school and my kids do too-- cause I'm assuming after reading that post you'd think we don't.



Tors said...

Wow! I think the fact that your preschool actually had vacancies was a big clue...LOL, on a parenting site I belong to the Sydneysiders used to joke that you had to put your kids on a waiting list in utero.

My experience with my son's preschool has been quite different. His teachers are required to be permanent residents and possess at least a diploma-level education in Child Development. And - gasp! - they actually want parents to volunteer!

So yeah, definitely not all preschools in Australia are like what you describe - and it's probably just big-city Sydneysiders who are livin' to work (quite a contrast from the stereotypical laid-back, eh?) I think you were just unlucky. :(

floridagirlinsydney said...

I think the hiring of casual workers is probably because this is a new center. It is really, really nice-- and I'm sure it didn't come off as though we actually like the place, and we really do. My kids RUN into the place when we arrive. I'm guessing any new center has a hard time finding the right people, especially since I think they hire more staff as the place is filling up.-- Btw, that's why they had space-- they had just opened weeks before!

Tors said...

Um, what happened to my comment? I hope you didn't think I was being snarky or anything - if so, I sincerely apologise, I didn't mean to sound that way. I just wanted to reassure you that not everyone in Australia exhibits the same cultural values that you've noticed in your preschool experience. That's all. :)

floridagirlinsydney said...

Hi Tors,
So sorry about that, I needed to edit my blog posting to reflect that this was a new preschool (the reason there was space was that they had just opened weeks prior to our enrollment). Basically, I wanted to better reflect the nature of the school's problem-- their being a brand new center. And I wanted to better reflect the nature of my problem-- seems like nothing has been just easy here.
Anyway, just wanted to add to my blog that we actually really like the preschool, it is really very nice, and my kids love it.
I kind of felt bad because I didn't mention was how nice the school is in so many ways-- one thing in particular (which I have never seen in the U.S.) is that the preschool has a chef who cooks really nice meals (breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea-- my kids aren't there for all of those). But for us, this is a huge benefit as one of my kids has a nut allergy, and no food is brought in by children to the school.
So the school I'm sure will work out its kinks-- but we weren't really what I would call "unlucky" in enrolling at that preschool, probably just a little unlucky that they didn't have a chance to be a little more establish before we joined them.
Ok, sorry about the incredibly long and blabbing comment response-- wanted to stand up for the school I was bashing:) ha,ha.
By the way, I know you're from Texas right? I lived in Dallas for 4 years, and my boys were born there. Thought you'd get a laugh out of this picture:

floridagirlinsydney said...

Tors- That picture url got cut off, I am posting that picture on my blog..

American in Norway said...

I was so wanting to volunteer when we moved here... but they just don't get it. i have even offered to come & help with the english lessons... "Umm...Yeahhhhhhh" Talk about feeling like a LOSER... So now i am like the rest of the Norwegian parents... Although I am the room mother for my daughters pre school (I think I am the only one interested in the job...) have yet to do anything...but will keep you posted.

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

American in Norway-- Weird, right?